• Family

    Memory’s Perfume

    Salty sea air. As soon as the scent hits my nostrils, I’m jolted back to the days of high-pitched giggles, knotted sandy blonde hair, smooth skin like sun-kissed pebbles, drawn-out blush-evenings with whispering waves. Days with my daughter, just us, carefree. When she was young, when we were close. Where no troubles existed, where we never disagreed. Ice cream was a must for us both, even in January. A swim was a necessity, though not in January. Days with my daughter, just us, carefree. Now, she’s grown, with a daughter of her own. And I’m grown, with a daughter miles from her home. Days with my husband, just us, careworn.…

  • Family

    Her Mark

    We ventured all over the village, leaving traces of her everywhere. She had left a mark on Sarah and me, but she was too young to have left her mark on the world. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. I wanted everyone to see her, to know her, to feel the impact of her short existence. On a post in the woods, we left her old shoe. She learnt to walk there. On a jagged stone wall, we left a buttercup. She always stopped to pick them on our family walks. On a roundabout in a playground, we left her toy microphone. She said her first word on there. ‘Sing’.…

  • Childhood,  Friendship

    A Drop of Kindness

    I heard the shouting through my bedroom wall one night. It was a woman’s voice. She sounded like how my mum did when my older brother had done something stupid. I fell asleep to the sound of her slurring words. The next night, as I was drifting off, I heard a small, soft voice. It was a girl. She sounded like me. Her sad singing, like a lullaby, sent me off to sleep. Smash. Thud. Bang. I got used to the shouting and crying after a while. I thought we’d have decent neighbours when we moved like our last ones. It was all Dad’s fault. He didn’t lose his job.…

  • Family

    Stay Home, Stay Safe

    I only want to hold her. One squeeze. One kiss. She’s been in the hospital for so long. Her poor mother can barely hold a conversation over the phone. Exhaustion has snatched her up, and now her baby girl is being snatched up. If only the girl’s temperature would drop. If only her heart rate would slow down. If I could just step outside my front door and drive over to be with them, to give my daughter a break, to give my granddaughter hope. I only want to hold her. One squeeze. One kiss. And then I’d leave. Drive back home. Shelter inside with my puzzles and biscuit tin.…

  • Family

    Eighteen Today

    “In five more minutes our baby girl would be turning eighteen,” Jeff said, and frowned at his wife, “goodness, she’d be an adult.” “Why won’t it stay straight?” Sarah snagged the safety pin from the paper with her race number on it and fished another one out of Jeff’s rucksack. “Why do we even need numbers?” “To keep everything in order. There are thousands of people to organise.” Jeff cast a concerned glance over his wife. “Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t have to do this, you know. If you don’t feel up…” Sarah shot him a warning look. “Well, I mean…” He searched for the right words but…

  • Family

    Heartbreak

    “Just this one favour and I promise I won’t ask you for anything ever again,” I plead for the third time, guzzling my coffee so I don’t have to meet my dad’s stern expression. “Son, the last time I looked after Annabelle, she threw up all over my beard.” He frowns. “Do you know how long it took to get the smell out of it?” his voice rises as he notices my smirk. “Look, I’m sorry. But I’m exhausted, Dad. I need a break.” “Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my granddaughter but this isn’t what she needs.” “Just take her for two days.” “What, so you…